Attorney General to Sue in Support of Chatham Over Land Dispute

KA_Osprey_Monomoy Wildlife Refuge_082516_017CHATHAM – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey recently announced that her office plans to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in support of Chatham and the state’s control over the waters and submerged lands west of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.

The federal agency’s newest refuge management plan released in 2014 contained a part which claimed the right to manage 4,000 acres of water in Nantucket Sound.

Chatham and the state Division of Marine Fisheries, however, claim they have the right to regulate areas below mean low tide for fishing and shellfishing, as they have for years.

The town and Fish and Wildlife could not come to a Memorandum of Understanding for fishery management in the area until ownership could be determined.

Chatham Selectman Seth Taylor said the town has managed submerged lands in a sustainable, responsible manner which has not harmed wildlife and conservation efforts.

“The Fish and Wildlife cannot point to a single instance that any of the management practices of the commonwealth or the town of Chatham have ever caused a problem for wildlife,” Taylor said.

He said the town tried its best to keep the disagreement at the lowest level of dispute possible.

Last month, Representative Bill Keating filed legislation which would support the town of Chatham in the dispute, but Taylor does not believe it will be passed by Congress during the current legislative session.

Taylor said that there will be a cooling session between now and when actual court proceedings take place, during which an opportunity to settle the matter outside of court could arise.

But Taylor said he does not believe the Fish and Wildlife Service will acquiesce.

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